People sometimes refer to an anticipated future event or circumstance as being a ‘good training opportunity’ and this generally includes a prediction that however ‘good’ the training personal suffer will be part of the process. I can remember an event which was indeed a good training opportunity but it wasn’t dark or involve suffering, or strife. Although things could have gone very differently if I’d had more chance to worry!
While staying in a small mountain temple in Japan in 2005 I realized (due to my default response of saying yes) I’d just agreed to celebrate morning service with everything being conducted in Japanese! Gulp! I basically guessed when to make bows and offer incense and then stood still with all the dignity I could muster while scriptures were chanted. Though it was testing my memory is of being so grateful for all the training/meditation I’d undertaken (in darkness and light) up to that point. I could almost hear Rev. Master Jiyu chuckling – she would have been proud.
Then circumstances can be so extreme there isn’t space to separate oneself from them and one responds in almost an effortless way not touched or caught up in drama. So what might have been in shadows and hard to see ones way through comes into the light. That was the case around the time of my fathers sudden death on a railway platform. I’m still amazed and grateful for everything surrounding his death.
Somebody wrote recently telling me about how she found her way through a series of serious life changing steps almost effortlessly. It could have been different however she knew how to move out of the shadows, which are invariably there, into clarity. She reported feeling guided and carried. One way of understanding this is that the merit of one’s practice carries one forward.
I know spiritual merit is something many find difficult to accept, let alone understand, however one thing it is not is reward for past good training! So perhaps it’s wisest not to anticipate good training opportunities, however human and understandable such thoughts might be.
This post is for a good friend in the sangha who I like to feel is dancing from one bright spot to another as she continues to daily face more decisions and difficult negotiations. Keep dancing dear friend!